Monday, March 18, 2024

On the craft trail: Two Red Ales and a Session IPA from 9 White Deer, O'Hara's and Lough Gill

On the craft trail

Two Red Ales and a Session IPA 

from 9 White Deer, O'Hara's and Lough Gill

9 White Deer Stag Rua Red Ale, 4.2% ABV, 500 ml bottle Bradleys

Be big, be bold, Bí Dána

Made with a mix of ale, crystal and chocolate malts, Stag Rua by Ballyvourney’s 9 White Deer, pours a very dark red indeed, with a soft off-white head. Indeed at first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a glass of stout was on the way to you.

Chocolate, coffee and caramel in the aromas and also on the smooth palate. A really well-balanced beer with no single ingredient dominating. Quite a satisfying mouthful indeed. Easy-drinking as they indicate and also Gluten Free (since 2018).

They say: Stag Rua is a beer with big malt flavours and it’s our impression of a perfect Irish Red Ale. The body is moderate meaning it’s not a heavy beer with an ABV of 4.2%. The flavour profile of Stag Rua is full of irresistible chocolate, caramel and toffee characteristics. These are derived from the liberal use of chocolate and crystal malts besides the gorgeous Irish ale malt. We hope you enjoy drinking it as much as we love it. Be big, be bold, Bí Dána”

Very Highly Recommended.


O’Hara’s Irish Red Ale, 4.3% ABV, 500 ml bottle, Dunnes

O’Hara’s has quite a dark red robe and an off white head that hangs about for a bit. They say the red colour is intensified by the finest roast barley, while subtle hop additions in the kettle give just the right bitterness and aroma to craft this distinctive Irish Red Ale.

Roasted caramel stands out in the aromatics. And you get that caramel and toffee flavour on the palate as well, thanks to the addition of a “pinch of roast barley during the brewing process”. The sweetness of the malt and traditional hop flavour combine well. A terrific example of the style gets a major thumbs up from this quarter.


The Carlow Brewing crew is naturally quite proud of their red ale: “This Red stands out in this beer style category. The malt body is as impressive as a bock, albeit in a uniquely Irish way….is much more complex than its mainstream rivals.”

Excellent balance and Very Highly Recommended


For the Geek

Style: Traditional Red Ale

ABV: 4.3%

IBU: 34 

Fermentation: Top fermentation 

Availability: Keg (carbonated), Bottle 50cl and 33cl (occasional 41L cask)

Serving Temperature: 6-8°C

Food Pairing: Pairs well with baked and roasted main courses from the oven such as beef hotpot. Also excellent with winter soups. A delicious accompaniment to mature cheddar or soft goat cheeses.

Lough Gill Shaka Session IPA, 3.8% ABV, 440 ml can, Higgins SuperValu

This light gold coloured IPA comes from the excellent Lough Gill Brewery in Sligo. 

It is hazy. Look hard and you’ll note fountains of bubbles rising up to the soft white head.  At 3.8% ABV, it limbos comfortably under the session bar. Aromas are moderate, are of the tropical kind and very pleasant. And so it continues smoothly on the palate with more tropical notes, also some citrus, and an almost creamy mouthfeel that “has been amped up with the addition of oats and Dextrin malts”. 

Another well-balanced beer with a refreshing finish and well suited to a session.

Highly Recommended.

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